Life Below Water: Why it Matters
Updated: Dec 28, 2021
The oceans encompass more than 70% of our planet's surface and serve a critical role in maintaining life. They are the most extensive and vital ecosystem on the planet, contributing to regional and global fundamental cycle as well as climate regulation. Natural resources such as food, materials, chemicals, and energy are all found in the ocean.By increasing fish harvests and revenue, generating new opportunities, promoting health, and promoting equality, Marine Protected Areas help to alleviate poverty. Debris accumulation in the world's aquatic environment is having a significant and rising economic impact.
Oceans, seas, and other aquatic habitats are crucial for human well-being as well as global social and economic growth. Small island developing states, in particular, rely on their protection and sustainable usage to achieve the 2030 Agenda. Coastal towns, which accounted for 37% of the world's population in 2010, are particularly dependent on ocean biodiversity.
Oceans offer jobs, sustenance, and revenue through fishing, tourism, and other industries. They also aid in the regulation of the global ecology by absorbing heat and carbon dioxide (CO2). Oceans and coastal areas, on the other hand, are very vulnerable to pollution, overfishing, and climate change.
The ocean is also the world's largest single ecosystem, providing food, marine transportation, renewable energy, and other commodities and services such as regulatory, cultural, and sustaining services to billions of people across the world.
Nonetheless, the ocean is not invincible, and human impact is significant. Overfishing, industrial pollution, exotic species, nutrient over-enrichment, habitat deterioration and destruction, biodiversity loss, global population dependency on products and services, and coastal development are all threats to the long-term viability of maritime ocean ecosystems. Acidification of the oceans is a developing problem that may be more serious than global warming.
Why it Matters
Oceans mean different things to different people: life, devotion, or bewilderment; tremendously crucial; a very essential element of energy and life; an astounding food source and an incredible source of bio-diversity; it's wild, exhilarating, frightening, and captivating; it means a lot to me, and if something happens, I won't be able to have the fun I'm used to; it's a livelihood, it's been there for generations, and hopefully it will be there for future generations.
The ocean is presently valued at 24 trillion dollars, according to the World Wildlife Fund. The value of products and services produced by maritime habitats is $2.5 trillion every year. As a result, the ocean would have the world's seventh-largest GDP. The worth of the ocean, on the other hand, is determined by its present output, which is dependent on its current circumstances. Climate change, ocean acidification, habitat destruction, pollution, and overfishing are putting the ocean in jeopardy, jeopardising the ocean's worth as well as the safety and welfare of the three billion people who rely on it. The majority of these people reside in Landlocked Developing Countries, and they are among the least responsible for these problems.
Progress of SDG 14
Extension of marine biodiversity shielded areas, as well as existing regulations and treaties encouraging the sustainable use of marine resources, are still inadequate to fight the negative consequences of overfishing, rising ocean acidification, and deteriorating coastal algal blooms. Because billions of people rely on the ocean for their subsistence and sustenance, more efforts and initiatives are required at all levels to protect and effectively use marine resources.
Ocean acidification occurs when the ocean absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere, changing the chemical makeup of the saltwater. Acidity has increased by 26% on median since pre-industrial times, according to long-term measurements over the last 30 years. By the end of the century, a 100 to 150 per cent rise is expected, with significant ramifications for marine species.
Fish stocks must be kept at an ecologically viable level to ensure long-term aquaculture growth. According to research, the percentage of world marine fish populations that are ecologically viable has decreased from 90% in 1974 to 66.9% in 2015.
As of December 2018, nearly 24 million kilometres (17.2 per cent) of seas under national sovereignty (0–200 nautical miles from a national boundary) were secured by protected areas, a considerable increase from 12 percent in 2015 and more than twice the amount covered in 2010. Protected areas grew from 31.2 percent in 2000 to 44.7 percent in 2015, and then to 45.7 percent in 2018.
Unauthorized, undocumented, and uncontrolled fishing is still one of the most serious challenges to marine conservation, people's livelihoods, and marine ecosystems. In the past, most governments have taken steps to curb illegal fishing and have implemented a growing number of strategic environmental tools.
Small-scale fisheries are found in practically every country, accounting for over half of overall output in terms of volume and price on average. Most nations have built specific regulatory and institutional frameworks to encourage small-scale fishermen's access to economic resources, services, and marketplaces. Nevertheless, more than 20% of nations, mainly in Oceania and Central and South Asia, have a low to medium degree of adaptation of such structures.
We can all do our part to safeguard the ocean by taking tiny efforts. Reduced single-use plastic, ethical seafood eating, eliminating ocean-harming items, and speaking up may all help to make the ocean a better place. More alternative techniques, such as reducing the number of greenhouse gases created by our everyday activities and, as a result, lowering our carbon emissions, can be implemented. Reduced intake of red meat, consumption of locally-based items, and reduced use of personal automobiles are all simple measures we may take to reduce our effect. Individual acts can have a significant impact on the destiny of our ocean.
We must unite as a global ocean community, recognising that all of our activities influence the ocean. And , while every one of us has a responsibility to safeguard the ocean, community engagement is also essential. To conserve our precious ocean, we will need new ocean action models that are interdisciplinary, geriatric, cross-cultural, and multi-sectoral in the coming decade.
About The Author
The Stambh Organization,India